At the moment I am sitting outside. The twittery sound of birdsong is louder than the whir of distant freeway traffic, but just barely. The dogs are asleep at my feet and I can feel the grass between my toes. It is hot out, but I am sitting in the shade of 3 pine trees. The cup of coffee sitting next to me is holding down a stack of essays that I am about to start working on. I know I've already written about this scene--but it is becoming such a familiar one--this probably won't be the last time I describe it to you. This here, is what I call "pre-writing." I thank Peter Elbow for teaching me this, and Natalie Goldberg, too. But anyway...
Yes, I am still working on my thesis. It seems hard to believe that I have not finished it yet...but it is not so bad anymore. I am almost done with it and, these days, I actually look forward to the time I am able to carve out in order to work on it. This is my sacred time (Mondays) and, despite difficulties, I let nothing get in the way of it. As another writer-friend likes to say: I'm on "sacred cow time."
Sometimes I wonder what I will do when I am finally done with my thesis. What will I write about when I no longer have a destination for my writing? In daydreams concerning topics such as this, I usually imagine myself writing short nonfiction pieces for publication (or not for publication (whichever). I am no longer bent on proving myself). In writing my thesis, one thing that I've learned about myself in terms of writing is that I am truly in love with the genre of creative nonfiction. Often, when applying for grad school, you get to choose from one of three categories: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. I've always waffled back and forth between poetry and nonfiction, never knowing where I best fit. Now I realize that I am a healthy combination of both--but my first and truest love is in creating prose. I derive great pleasure from crafting a good sentence. I am in love with punctuation and word choice, rhythm and rhyme and long stretches of syllables that extend from one side of the page to the other until, finally, an entire paragraph is formed, and then another and another and another. In this way, I am able to transform miniature moments into something that can be shared. I don't really care about getting published so much as I like the idea of my writing having a place in the world, a destination. After all, it feels good to have a purpose in life, don't you think? It feels good to have a "home," a place for things to rest or be received--on more levels than one.
Completing my degree will, in many ways, take the weight off of things--but, without grades or deadlines or the incentive of finally attaining a diploma, what will drive my work? From where will I excavate ample amounts of focus and inspiration? Frankly, I find this thought mildly intoxicating. I am excited to see where I end up once on my own. But let me not forget:
"The journey is the destination." ~Dan Eldon